Glorification of Body Image by the Media
The United States has seen a rise of Anorexia Nervosa among its people and is doing nothing to combat this problem. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by immoderate food restriction and an irrational fear of gaining weight, as well as a distorted body self-perception. It is, in large part, mental disorder because many times the people that have it are usually at a normal weight and size originally, but their minds allow them to think otherwise. This disorder is beginning to become more prominent in the modeling industry as the models are required to meet certain unrealistic criteria. When walking down the runway or seen in magazines, models often have visible ribs and bones, have an overall emaciated appearance, and look seemingly unhealthy. This is a crisis because not only are the models’ bodies being harmed, but their fans and people who look to them as an inspiration are at risk as well. People who look to them are under the impression that it is okay to look that way and therefore aspire to fit the same criteria. To top it all off, the American media glorifies this appearance, making it something that people strive to acquire rather than a physical state that requires immediate medical attention.
Many people are familiar with anorexia and its tendency to be fatal, but they do not know specifically how it can lead to death. The point is only that the degree of starvation and malnutrition are what determine the physiologic consequences of an eating disorder. Malnutrition affects multiple organ systems including the liver, kidneys, intestine, pancreas, heart, brain, and endocrine system. Without proper protein and calorie input, humans lack the basic building blocks to maintain cells and the energy to power the upkeep of their bodies. The results can be devastating, including but not limited to delayed puberty, lack of normal periods in women, the inability to ovulate (which can lead to infertility), and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
Among the aforementioned organs that that are affected by anorexia are the kidneys, which begin to slow down after three to four years of the disorder. This leads to a build-up of the toxic substances that they normally remove. More importantly, when the kidneys don't function properly, they are unable to properly process potassium. The loss of potassium that results can have profound effects on the heart. In the heart, the valves that prevent the backflow of blood become weak and floppy, allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction and lead to increased work for the heart. More importantly, however, is the potassium deficiency that is caused by the kidney dysfunction. Any cell that sends an electrical impulse in the body relies upon potassium to help generate that impulse, meaning that the likelihood of their proper functioning is low. Nerve cells and heart muscle cells are two types of cells that rely on potassium for this purpose. According to the chapter titled “Eating Disorders” in Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a low potassium level can lead to arrhythmias in the heart, or aberrations in the pattern of beating, which is one of the two leading causes of death in malnutrition and eating disorders. Such irregular beat patterns result because the normal pace-making cells in the heart cannot generate the proper electrical signals to the keep the heart beating correctly. This shows that when the media glorifies an unreasonable body image, they are subliminally facilitating malnutrition in the minds of their viewers and patrons.
It has been reported that adolescents with anorexia are more likely to develop anxiety and depression in their adult lives. These same people commonly abuse drugs and alcohol due to the helplessness they feel about their situation .This leads to the 2nd largest cause of death in people who have an eating disorder: suicide. According to a health and wellness article titled...
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